12 Aug 2015

Benefit thieves told to pay back £183k or go to jail

We mentioned clairvoyant Timothy Abbott back in March. Now for an update.

He and his wife have belatedly been ordered to pay back over £183,000.

Psychic medium Timothy Abbott claimed he was so disabled he could barely walk but was busted after he was filmed by investigators working out in a Gym. The 54-year-old, who advertised himself as an "international spiritualist clairvoyant medium and tutor", toured the world offering his services. But he conned the taxpayer out of thousands of pounds in disability, council tax and housing benefits by claiming he was unfit for work.

A court heard Abbott claimed £35,496 in incapacity benefit and £22,848 in disability living allowance between 1998 and 2014. He pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of a change in circumstances in June last year. Abbott also admitted conning HMRC out of £9,532 by failing to pay income tax or national insurance contributions. He was jailed for eight months when he was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court.

His wife Janette Abbott, 50, also falsely claimed £19,477 in disability allowance and £713 in incapacity benefit along with £1,000 in council tax benefit.

A court heard he failed to pay £37,000 worth of income support and conned Staffordshire County Council out of £44,000 in housing benefits.

Mrs Abbott admitted three counts of failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstances, one count of making a false statement and one of falsely obtaining benefits by deception. But she escaped jail after being sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

The scheming pair, from Stafford, have now been told to pay back a total of £183,450 after a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Stafford Crown Court last week.

Prosecutor Glyn Samuel said Mr Abbott had benefited to the tune of £86,524, including £9,532 owed to the taxman, and his realisable assets were in the same amount.

The court heard his wife's criminal benefit was £123,022 and her realisable assets were £96,926.

Recorder Professor Martin Wasik ordered Mr Abbott to forfeit £86,524 and his wife to forfeit £96,926.

The benefits cheats were each given three months to hand over the money or face two years in jail.

Tim Pole, defending Mrs Abbott, said the couple were in the process of selling their £200,000 detached home in Stafford to raise her share of the equity. Paul Hiatt, defending Mr Abbott, asked for a restraining order on the deeds to the house to be lifted so it could be sold.


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